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Friday, 23 May 2014

'Mr Campion's Farewell' completed by Mike Ripley

Published by Severn House,
April 2014.
ISBN 978-0-7278-8383-4

If the name sounds familiar you are correct - this is the Golden Age detective writer Margery Allingham's aristocratic detective, Albert Campion resurfacing!   As the book cover puts it 'Margery Allingham's Albert Campion returns in Mr Campion's Farewell.   When Margery Allingham died in 1966, her widower, Philip Youngman Carter completed her book, Cargo of Eagles, and wrote 2 more Campion books - Mr Campion's Farthing and Mr Campion's Falcon - then he died in 1969 leaving a fragment of manuscript for a third book.   It is this book that Mike Ripley offered to complete for the Margery Allingham Society who own the manuscript.  Mike is, of course, an accomplished writer of detective fiction in his own right and a devoted fan of Margery Allingham.  

Mike modestly disclaims any attempt to recreate Margery's style but, it seems to me, that he and Philip Youngman Carter (whose style and approach Mike does follow) have caught many of the qualities of Margery's original character of Albert Campion and her light hearted style of presentation.

We begin in September 1969 in the traditional English village of Lindsay Carfax with its cutesy ambience.  Albert's niece, an artist, is living there and participating in the local tradition of serving the tourists, in her case by painting copies of landscapes that could possibly be Old Masters though not guaranteed as such to the buyer.   The village is run not by a parish council but by a group known as the Carders which has some connection to wool and an apparent fixation on the number nine.   On a visit to see his niece, Eliza Jane, Campion has several misadventures which build up his suspicions of malpractice while puzzling him further as to the nature of the problem.

There are here the Allingham features of mystifying and unconnected happenings, a convincing period atmosphere and witty repartee.   The story reaches a satisfying and thrilling climax leaving Albert, though rather battered by his experiences, returning to the embraces of his family.  Characters from the Allingham pantheon appear to aid and hassle Albert in his attempted elucidation.  

Mike Ripley has produced a worthy successor to the Allingham/Youngman Carter oeuvre - I enjoyed it immensely.  The development of events in his decision to complete the Youngman Carter book are explained in an author's note and the tradition of mapping used in the previous books is continued here.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer

Mike Ripley is the author of the award-winning ‘Angel’ series of comedy thrillers.  He has won the Crime Writers Association 'Last Laugh Award' twice, first in 1989 with Angel Touch and then again in 1991 for Angels in Arms. Mike was also a scriptwriter for the BBC comedy-drama series Lovejoy (1986–94), which starred Ian McShane as a lovable rogue antique dealer.
For ten years Mike served as crime fiction critic for The Daily Telegraph and on the Birmingham Post for a further eight, reviewing in all over 950 crime novels..
In 2003 he suffered a stroke, and wrote an account of his recovery, Surviving a Stroke, which was published in 2006.
Currently he writes the "Getting Away With Murder" column for the online publication Shots. He is also the series editor at Ostara Publishing, which specialises in reprinting classic mysteries and thrillers.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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